Book Review: Take Me Home From the Oscars: Arthritis, Television, Fashion and Me

Celebrity Fashion Expert Christine Schwab Hid Her Rheumatoid Arthritis for Years


Celebrity fashion expert and author Christine Schwab's book, Take Me Home From the Oscars: Arthritis, Television, Fashion and Me, was published in 2011. What has taken me so long to review it? I didn't know myself until recently. Every time I picked up the book, I absolutely loved it. Yet, I struggled to finish it and broke a few promises to the author that my review was coming soon. Fact is, sometimes when you are in a storm you can't see the collateral damage until the storm has passed.

In September 2010, my husband and soulmate passed away. He had rheumatoid arthritis, as do I. Yes, we were a two-RA household. On top of living with the disease, as a patient and as a spouse, I wrote about arthritis for a living on the website and I have written two books about arthritis. I now realize that the last thing I felt like doing in 2011, after dealing with my own chronic rheumatoid arthritis, blaming it on some level for taking my husband too soon, and writing about it on a daily basis, was to read about it. It took me this long to fully realize the mental or emotional block I created with this book. The final clue hit me smack in the face when I finally made my way to Chapter 22 - A Makeover for Arthritis? The dateline of that chapter is September 2010. Well, yes, I felt like I had come full circle.     

I have read arthritis books before which were written by people who live with the chronic disease.

They tend to follow a similar format -- explain arthritis and arthritis diagnosis, discuss the consequences of living with physical pain and limitations, consider treatment options, and conclude with some sort of inspirational message. There are several well-written books just like that and they do provide important information, especially for newly-diagnosed arthritis patients.

But, Take Me Home From the Oscars: Arthritis, Television, Fashion and Me is an extraordinary book. Imagine the arthritis (specifically, rheumatoid arthritis) story told with the backdrop of celebrity. That's Christine Schwab's story and it couldn't be more fascinating.

When she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, Christine was a successful fashion and beauty expert who appeared on some of the most popular television and radio shows (Live With Regis and Kathie Lee, Live With Regis and Kelly, The Today Show, Oprah, NBC Nightly News, Rachel Ray and more) as well as being featured in popular magazines. I remember watching her on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee back in the 1990s. Her work focused on beauty, fashion, looking your best, makeovers, and basically, outward perfection. Christine was a celebrity herself and she knew celebrities. She rubbed elbows with influential people in the entertainment business and her husband, Shelly Schwab, was once the president of television distribution at Universal Studios.

So, take a second to imagine this: Rheumatoid arthritis meets the celebrity world. Sounds like the most unwelcome guest possible just made an entrance at the most lavish party. We know how difficult rheumatoid arthritis can make ordinary life. So, how was Christine Schwab going to survive this?  Well, that's exactly what she does. But, she not only survives -- Christine makes a fabulous comeback. Her book takes us on the journey. It is amazing. I won't disclose too much because you must read the book yourself. Yes, it's a must-read for anyone with rheumatoid arthritis or anyone who has a close family member or friend with the chronic disease. Christine tells us:

  • How her childhood situation helped to make her a survivor in life.
  • Why she chose to hide her rheumatoid arthritis from her professional contacts and all but the closest family and friends.
  • About the importance of having a great relationship and partnership with her doctors.
  • About initially being turned down as a participant in a clinical trial for Enbrel (etanercept) -- but later being enrolled in a study.
  • Why being enrolled in that study caused more joint damage.
  • Why she and her husband had to walk out of the 67th Annual Academy Awards in 1995 as other celebrities were walking in.
  • About her experience with biologic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • About her remission.
  • About her passion for writing.
  • Why she is now giving Arthritis a voice and a makeover.   

This book truly is a quick read -- don't be at all misled by how long it took me. Christine tells her story in a personable, conversational manner. It feels friendly. It feels comfortable. It feels relatable. Her story is timeless. I guarantee that after you read it, you will be filled with hope.

Also check out:

Christine's website

Christine's Kids on Facebook

Christine Talks JA on CreakyJoints

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